PPPRA suspends Nimex Petroleum over subsidy documents

Channels Television  
Updated May 9, 2012

A Swiss-based oil firm, Nimex Petroleum has been suspended by  the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) for failing to provide original documents for the importation of fuel and subsidy claims.

Nimex Petroleum confirmed on Wednesday that PPPRA had suspended its activities in a letter dated May 3 over missing documentation relating to the delivery of two shipments of around 10,000-12,000 tonnes of gasoline.

At current market prices, the subsidy payment due for the shipments in question is worth around $10 million.

PPPRA is one of several agencies indicted for overseeing a fraudulent scheme that paid out large sums in fuel subsidy claims for fuel that was not imported or was sold abroad.

According to a recent probe by the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee on the mis-management of the fuel subsidy, the schemes around the importation of refined fuel is estimated to cost the country $6.8 billion between 2009-2011.

Nimex said it had sent the PPPRA copies of documents – rather than originals as requested – because some banks were holding the original papers as credit until the subsidy payment was received.

“The originals are in the banking channel,” Nimex’s general manager Oliver Hess told Reuters, adding the bank would hold the documents until the regulator had paid out the sum due for the shipments.

But the bank would not release the original documents until the regulator had paid the subsidy, Hess said, creating a situation in which the oil firm was going around in circles to obtain the missing documentation requested.

Two Nimex employees were travelling to Abuja with most of the original document requested, Hess said, adding the firm hoped to resolve the dispute by Friday.

The investigation disclosed that 18 firms never produced the documents required to prove the subsidy funds received from the government tallied with the amount of fuel they had imported.

The federal government tried in vain to end fuel subsidies in January, but a week of public protests forced the government to partially re-instate the payments, seen as a drain on its budget.